Ideas for a vegetarian diet on college campus

College students can easily maintain a vegetarian diet on college campus and in dorm rooms. It’s not as difficult as you might think. Here are some ideas for finding, making and enjoying vegetarian food in and around campus.

Is a vegetarian diet right for you? (Credit: Changing Habits)

Is a vegetarian diet right for you? (Credit: Changing Habits)

Why people become vegetarian would take up a whole other blog post, but for now, if you already are vegetarian or are considering becoming one, don’t let being in college hinder you. Sure, there’ll be burgers, buffalo wings, and pepperoni pizza all around you. But most cafeterias will have vegetarian options, such as veggie burgers and salad bars. Plus you can order a la carte and fill your tray with baked beans, rice pilaf, veggies, mac & cheese, and so on.

Mix and match in the cafeteria

Writer Priyunka at writes in “How to Be a Vegetarian in College: A Guide to a Healthy, Animal-Friendly Lifestyle” posted August 30, 2014: “I realized that by mixing food items from different stations, I had such a wide variety of options! For example, there was a wrap station … so I asked for the wrap left open with the few vegetables they did have. I then moved to the burger section and asked them to add guacamole to my wrap, and finally to the salad section, where I added spinach and healthy greens. The finished wrap was excellent, and I could also run to the ‘Mexican cuisine’ area to add salsa.”

Pack snacks for the day

Granola bars, hard-boiled eggs, edamame, nuts & raisins, soy nuts, peanut butter sandwiches are a few options available to vegetarians. Here are more suggestions from “How to Become a Vegetarian, the Easy Way,” posted in Zen Habits August 17, 2007: “I love to eat fruits and cut-up veggies, but there are lots of other great snacks you can eat. Roasted (or raw) almonds, hummus and pitas or veggies, blue corn chips and salsa, low-fat granola, berries with soy yogurt, whole-grain cereals, Kashi crackers…. Have plenty on hand, at home, at work, and on the road.”


Here are some appliances to make a vegetarian college student’s life easier: Toaster oven so you can make up some grilled cheese. A blender for fruity morning smoothies. A microwave for frozen veggie entrees. Also consider a rice cooker, which cooks not only rice but can be used as a slow-cooker or pan to boil eggs, make oatmeal, boil pasta, cook veggies, make mac & cheese and heat up soup. “Homemade hummus is a treat and you can customize it to be as garlicky or mild as you want. The rice cooker takes care of cooking the chickpeas (it takes about half an hour) and then you can simply puree [or mash with a fork] the chickpeas with your other hummus ingredients,” suggested Melanie Pinola in “15 Surprising Things You Can Make in a Rice Cooker,” posted on Lifehacker May 29, 2015.

Venture off campus

Depending on the climate of your college town, you might be able to find fresh farmers’ markets, artisan food shops, hippie hangouts and vegetarian restaurants.

Go international

Surprisingly, there are ethnic vegetarian dishes everywhere—you just have to look! Mexican black bean and rice burrito, Japanese udon noodles and miso, Indian lentil dal and basmati rice, Chinese tofu and bok choy, Thai pad thai, Middle Eastern falafel and tahini pocket, Italian eggplant parmigiana. Yum!

Vegetarian nutrition warnings

If you’re new to being vegetarian, read up on proper nutrition and vitamin requirements (fruits, veggies, B12 and omega-3). Ice cream, cheese pizza, french fries and white-flour bagels are all vegetarian, but they do not make a healthy diet. Minimize your intake of fat from cheese and whole milk, and high-glycemic carbs from white bread, white rice and pasta. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium from low-fat milk and yogurt, and from leafy greens.

What other tips do you have to be vegetarian on campus?

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